How to Do One Thing at a Time

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Sample practice test prompts for the CATW

Sample 1

Assignment: Begin by reading the passage below.

How Your Birth Order Influences Your Life Adjustment

The child becomes known as the family’s only child, oldest child, middle child, or youngest child, depending on his birth order. He is thought and talked about as having that place in the family. Both in his mind and in the minds of other people, an important part of his identity is his family position. 

The other members of the family assume certain attitudes toward each child in terms of his birth order. Parents usually expect their oldest child to be more capable and more responsible than the younger children. The oldest child comes to think about himself in the same way. These ways of seeing himself, of thinking about himself because of his sibling role, become part of his self-concept. 

Similarly, the middle child may think of himself as able to do things better than other people because he is usually more capable than his younger siblings. Sometimes, though, he must turn to an older sibling or to his parents for help, and so he thinks of himself as being able to obtain help when he needs it.

The youngest child may develop the self-concept that he is less able to do many things than other people. However, he is not concerned because there are always others around to take care of him. 

In contrast, the only child tends to think, “When my parents are not around, I have no one to turn to for help. So I’d better learn to take care of myself as much as possible.”

The place in the family establishes for the child a specific role to be played within the family group. It influences him to develop certain attitudes toward himself and toward other people and helps him develop specific patterns of behavior.

(290 words)
Adapted from an essay by Lucille Forer, “How Your Birth Order Influences Your Life Adjustment”, in Write to be Read, p.7.

Writing Directions
Read the passage above and write an essay responding to the ideas it presents. In your essay, be sure to summarize the passage in your own words, stating the author’s most important ideas. Develop your essay by identifying one idea in the passage that you feel is especially significant, and explain its significance. Support your claims with evidence or examples drawn from what you have read, learned in school, and/or personally experienced.

Remember to review your essay and make any changes or corrections that are needed to help your reader follow your thinking. You will have 90 minutes to complete your essay.

Sample 2

Assignment: Begin by reading the passage below.

Modern Society and the Quest for Human Happiness

Everywhere, by all means imaginable, people are striving to improve their lives. Yet strangely, my impression is that those living in the materially developed countries, for all their industry, are in some ways less satisfied, are less happy, and suffer more than those living in the least developed countries. 

Indeed, if we compare the rich with the poor, it often seems that those with nothing are, in fact, the least anxious, though they are plagued with physical pains and suffering. As for the rich, while a few know how to use their wealth intelligently – that is to say, not in luxurious living but by sharing it with the needy – many do not. They are so caught up with the idea of acquiring still more that they make no room for anything else in their lives. In their absorption with material wealth, they actually lose the dream of happiness, which riches were to have provided. As a result, they are constantly tormented, torn between doubt about what may happen and the hope of getting more, and plagued with mental and emotional suffering – even though outwardly they may appear to be leading entirely successful and comfortable lives. This is suggested both by the high degree and by the disturbing prevalence among the populations of the materially developed...
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